This Saturday, April 25, Alley Cat Allies observes World Veterinary Day by recognizing veterinarians and their crucial role in protecting cats. Veterinarians not only serve their communities by providing care and treatment for cats, they are also vital sources of information about cats and cat health.
This year’s World Veterinary Day theme is “Vector-Borne Diseases with a Zoonotic Potential,” which is a subject veterinarians are often asked about regarding outdoor cats. As experts, veterinarians are uniquely positioned to answer questions from the public and dispel common myths about zoonoses—myths and undue fear that can cost cats their lives. Veterinarians can use their knowledge and experience to help people understand that outdoor cats are healthy members of the community.
For example, the enormous success of rabies vaccination and prevention in the United States is illustrative of the impact of veterinarians and their support for effective, humane programs like Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for community cats, which are often the largest providers of rabies vaccinations in communities. The fact is there has not been a single cat to human rabies transmission in the United States in 40 years, and this impressive record is due in large part to veterinary practice and education, as well as the growth of TNR programs nationally.
In a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program, community cats—also called feral cats—are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal sign of a neutered and vaccinated cat). Unsocialized cats are returned to their outdoor home, while socialized cats and kittens are adopted. Trap-Neuter-Return works—it is the mainstream approach to community cats and is supported by veterinarians across the country.
“The importance of cooperation between veterinarians and community cat groups cannot be understated,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Together, they create a powerful coalition that saves cats’ lives and mobilizes the community with knowledge and resources.”
Alley Cat Allies supports veterinarians by providing them with the information they need to respond to and educate community members on cat health and dispelling common misconceptions and myths about community cats. Alley Cat Allies also sponsors trainings throughout the country to provide hands-on experience for veterinarians in high-volume spay and neuter procedures, as well as teaching veterinarians how to respond to the unique needs of community cats.
Resources for veterinarians can be found on Alley Cat Allies’ website at www.alleycat.org/veterinarian. In addition, veterinarians are encouraged to sign an online pledge to show their support for TNR.